Texas Railroad Commissioner, Christi Craddick, spoke Wednesday at the first Shale Show, held at the Nolan County Coliseum in Sweetwater. Craddick, who has West Texas ties, expressed her gratitude for being asked to speak at the event and also her excitement with the developments of the new Cline Shale, and with the continuing progress of established shales, which has contributed $12 billion in industry to the state of Texas.
‚ÄúIn Texas, we‚Äôve produced 1.7 million barrels of oil, two-thirds of which has come from the Permian Basin,‚ÄĚ said Craddick. ‚ÄúIn 2010, the Railroad Commission permitted about 4,000 wells. Now, we‚Äôre close to 9,000. Eagle Ford is one shale. There are 10-14 shales in the Permian Basin. The potential for growth is exciting for this area, and for the country. If we continue to produce the amount that we‚Äôve been producing, we will be virtually energy independent by 2020.‚ÄĚ
Craddick mentioned that the public needs to be aware of water and transportation issues, though. A constitutional amendment, Prop. 6, will be on the voting ballot this November. The amendment is meant to help Texas safeguard the future of on of our critical resources ‚ÄĒ water ‚ÄĒ by establishing a State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) that provides a conservative solution to meet our growing water needs without incurring debt in the process. The amendment would appropriate $2 billion from the $11 billion extra in the Rainy Day Fund. Craddick also mentioned another constitutional amendment, to be on the ballot next November, that would appropriate $6.2 billion dollars from the excess Rainy Day Fund to deal with transportation.
Touching briefly on the agency itself, Craddick said the Texas Railroad Commission has passed new recycling rules, and new casing rules ‚ÄĒ the first changes in 25-30 years. ‚ÄúI believe we have the best rules in the industry,‚ÄĚ said Craddick. ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt want to over regulate; I think we have good common sense.‚ÄĚ
Craddick briefly touched on some upgrades within the agency as well. A major overhaul of the IT systems for the Texas Railroad Commission are underway with an anticipated completion date sometime in May of 2015. The extensive overhaul includes having all permits and data for operators stored online. ‚ÄúThe goal is to be more efficient,‚ÄĚ said Craddick. ‚ÄúI believe we‚Äôre the most important agency in the state since the 80s, but unfortunately, our technology is about the same age. It‚Äôs time to upgrade.‚ÄĚ
The state of Texas has been fracking since the 1940s. ‚ÄúWestern states, like California, look to us on how to implement fracking rules,‚ÄĚ said Craddick.
However, because of the amount of fracking the state does, other agencies, such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), want to put more fracking rules in place. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Endangered Species agency is also fighting with the Texas Railroad Commission. ‚ÄúWe want to protect our critters, but there needs to be good science and common sense,‚ÄĚ Craddick said.
In the question and answer portion of her time, Craddick addressed concerns from some audience members about water and the drought Texas is experiencing. ‚ÄúThe drought is bad, but it‚Äôs making the industry figure out how to use less water, implement brackish water and to de-salinate water,‚ÄĚ said Craddick. ‚ÄúHopefully in the next three to five years, we‚Äôll learn to do all of it even better.‚ÄĚ
In closing, Craddick expressed her gratitude once again and asked community members to bring their questions and concerns to her. ‚ÄúI consider it to be ‚Äėthe good, the bad, and the ugly‚Äô part of the Texas Railroad Commission, but I appreciate people being involved and giving feedback,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm excited about our agency and I‚Äôm excited about this industry. I want the people to be, as well.‚ÄĚ